ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine. They are everywhere from busy street junctions to shopping malls. Whenever you need some cash in a hurry, an ATM is your best solution. A lot of people associate ATMs with banks and financial institutions. But did you know over 270,000 ATMs in the United States are owned by people like you and me? Well, that turns out around 59% of the ATMs in the US are independently owned. So there clearly is a huge market for independent ATM businesses and a lot of money to be made in this niche.
Today, in this article, I am going to walk you through the step-by-step guide to start your own ATM business in the United States.
1. Setting up your ATM Business
One of the first thing you should do in any venture is setting up the business from ground up. Since this is a crucial phase for any business, I have further subdivided this topic into four steps.
Choose a Name and Logo for your Business
Name and logo are two of the most important aspects your business because they communicate ownership, authority and values. It’s imprinted on your service, your business card, website, social media, and most importantly, in the minds of your clients.
If you are having difficulties choosing a name for your business, I’d highly recommend giving Shopify’s business name generator a try. It’s free and really useful tool for generating names relevant to your business.
As for logo, my go to option is Looka. This tool will provide you a professional looking logo at very reasonable price. If you want don’t want to spend any money in you logo and want a simple and free tool there is Canva for you.
Create a Website for your Business
As for your business website for an ATM business, it does not need to be incredibly fancy or cost a lot of money to set up. You can read my guide on making websites for small businesses by yourself.
If you need a professionally designed website for you, our $249 small business website package might be useful for you. Just shoot us a message through this contact form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the deal.
Create a Business Plan
A business plan is the root of your business. It details the goals and ambitions of the owners and the business itself and addresses the steps to be taken to achieve those goals. Some of the key areas to include in your business plan are budgeting, market research, target demographics, pricing strategy and marketing ideas.
If you are having difficulty writing a business plan for your business, SBA has a great resource to help you write your business plan.
Register your Business and get an EIN
Registering your business has many benefits. If you are serious about your business you’d want to set up a legitimate business entity. This will strength not only the trust between you and your clients but also with banks or other lending institutions. Furthermore, registering your ATM business will prevent any legal problems with government in future.
Once your business is registered getting an EIN is pretty simple. You can apply for an EIN number online. This number will come in handy while filing tax or even when opening a business bank account.
Unlike any other businesses, opening a business bank account is not that simple for an ATM business. This seemingly simple step is a pretty big hurdle for ATM business owners. The reason for this is ATM businesses are impacted by the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). The BSA law is designed to prevent money laundering. It requires banks to adopt certain procedures and policies to identify and stop this type of illegal activity. Therefore, you bank may perform their due diligence while opening a business bank account for your ATM business.
2. Funding your ATM Business
ATM businesses have really small startup costs. Unlike other businesses, you can setup your own ATM business with only around $5000 depending on the type of ATM machine you want. This will get you your first ATM machine ($1500-$2500) and leaves you with $2500-$3500 for vaulting(the money that goes inside the ATM). If you don’t have any cash and want to finance this venture you can either get a loan or apply for a credit card.
If you want to go through the loan route, an SBA microloan program is probably the best option for you. The Small Business Administration’s microloan program offers small businesses anywhere from $500 to $50K in capital. An average SBA microloan is $13K, which is more than enough to get your ATM business up and running.
You can also apply for ATM business financing from ATM Depot and check if you qualify. Their program offers interest free period of at least a year and you only pay upfront service fee, if you are approved.
3. Finding a location for your ATM Business
Your most critical step when getting into the ATM business is finding your location. A lot of people ask me, do I have to own the business to place an ATM machine there? You, absolutely, do not! All you have to do is approach the business owner and ask if they’re interested in placing an ATM machine inside their business.
One of the most prominent reason why as business owner would like an ATM machine placed inside his business is the soaring credit card processing charges. Having an ATM machine inside a business will not only see more cash being spent but also attract customers into their business who are looking for an ATM.
The business owner will have no responsibility of the ATM machine. Therefore, you get to reap all the benefits. However, keep in mind, some businesses may ask for a portion of the revenue or a fixed rent to place an ATM inside their business.
Many people also ask what type of location will do well? The foot traffic is the main aspect to look at when trying to find a location. On average, anywhere from 4-6% of people walking through the door each day will use the machine. Using this average, if there are 100 people walking through the door, that machine will get 5 uses a day. You want to find a location that averages 200+ people a day. In that case, you’re looking at around 10-12 uses a day (300 a month) and if you’re charging the national average surcharge amount of $3, that’s a $900 profit each month!
4. Purchasing your ATM Machine
Make sure you have to have finalized your location prior to purchasing the machine. The lease option does not apply when you are getting into the ATM business. There are variety of machine options for your ATM business. I suggest you pick the machine that suits the business you are placing it. LiebermanCompanies offers both stand alone ATM machines, as well as thru the wall ATM machines.
Thru the wall machines are more expensive and it is only recommended in the location with high volume of foot traffic. 99% of the time, a standalone machine is more than enough. I will also suggest you to stay with the same manufacturer for all your locations, since it will make things a lot easier for you.
Usually, the ATM machine will be shipped directly to the location of where the machine will be operational. A service technician will program, install, and train you on how to work your new ATM machine. Make sure the place you buy your ATM from will provide you with this technician. The pricing ranges from $349-450 depending on the location of the business.
The technician will program the ATM machine with all your banking information, as well as customize the screen and receipt as per your needs. The technician will also set your surcharge amount you prefer. The installation and training process should take no longer than 1-3 hours. Make sure you learn how to operate your machine, as well as how to stock it with cash and receipt paper.
5. Selecting your ATM Processor
All ATM machines needs to connected to a server to process the transactions. This server is also known as a processing server or an ATM processor. There are a few options as far as connection goes.
Most businesses have internet in their business, and the machines can connect to this internet. You would just need an Ethernet jack by where the machine is going to be placed, or an open port on the modem with the cable line run to where the machine is going to be placed.
Another option is a phone line. You would need the phone jack within 3 feet of where the machine is going to be placed. If a phone line or internet connection isn’t available near the business, you can always purchase a wireless router that creates it’s own wireless internet. All three options work the same. Just make sure, the phone line or internet line is running prior to the installation being set up.
6. Operating your ATM Business
Once the machine is up and running, next comes the easy part! You can sit back and relax, and monitor your machine from home while it generates you income passively. When the machine gets low in cash or receipt, simply re-stock it. Your next step should be keeping your eye out for a new location, so you can grow your business up even more!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do ATM owners make money?
ATM owners make money from fees charged to customers when they withdraw their money. The total revenue from an ATM is usually ATM owner and the owner of the location or business. The split can sometimes be as high as 50%-50%.
What is the average ATM surcharge fee?
The average ATM surcharge fee is around $3. It may seem a small figure, but trust me, it adds up really quick if your ATM machine is well placed.
What Is the average number of ATM transactions per month?
According to ATM Depot, the average number of ATM transactions per month is 180.
Is owning an ATM a good investment?
Owning an ATM can be a great investment because the costs of buying an ATM are low compared to the potential returns that an ATM can generate. Assuming an average new ATM cost of $2500 and average gross revenue per ATM of $900 a month, the ROI can be upwards of 200% per year.
How much to stock the ATM machine with?
Most machines hold between $16,000-$20,000 in $20 bills. However, ATM owners don’t put nearly this much into the machine. I would suggest a minimum of $1,000 in the machine. And the more you put above $1000, the less you would need to run your route for a cash refill. As someone withdraws the money from your ATM, it’s automatically wired right back into the bank account you set up with ATM company. If it’s taken out before 3pm, it will post tomorrow morning, after 3pm it’s the following day. So that cash is always recycling through.
Therefore, the smaller amount you stock the machine with, the more often you’ll have to take that cash out back out of your bank account and restock the machine.